Data on homelessness in Los Angeles county released on May 11 confirmed what many local social service agencies and non-profit service providers already knew: the number of homeless in the Antelope Valley has increased dramatically, from 2,114 in 2013 to 2,818 in 2015, an increase of 33 percent.
The sobering numbers do have a silver lining, however.
While the total number of homeless has increased county-wide, the number of homeless veterans appears to be dropping.
Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles County has decreased by 6 percent in the last two years. In the Antelope Valley, the official figure provided by the LA Homeless Services Authority is 79 homeless veterans, down from 231 in 2013. While local service providers believe the actual number of homeless vets is more than the LAHSA total, there is agreement that substantial progress is being made in providing housing and services to veterans in need.
In recent months, the problem of homelessness amongst veterans in L.A. County has been targeted by a coalition of service providers, including United Way, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Veterans Administration and various regional agencies. These combined efforts have come together in a program called Home For Good, a county-wide coalition of over 100 participating organizations. Participants in the Antelope Valley include the Antelope Valley Domestic Violence Council, Mental Health America, City of Palmdale and South Antelope Valley Emergency Services. Home For Good provides a Coordinated Entry System to bridge existing programs together across L.A. County, connecting homeless adults to the resources best suited to their needs.
Commenting on the efforts on behalf of homeless veterans in the A.V., Chris Ko, a program director at Home For Good’s central office at United Way Los Angeles, notes that, “All of Los Angeles County has been impressed by the spectacular progress the A.V. CES network has made,” in meeting and exceeding their program goals. In 100 days of Coordinated Entry System implementation in the A.V., Home For Good completed 67 housing placements. Ko reports many new commitments in the past month from new service providers in the Valley, uniting with Home For Good in the common goal of eradicating veteran homelessness.
Landlord recruitment is an important key to the success of the Home For Good outreach program. Enter “Home For Heroes”, an offshoot of Home
For Good that enables landlords to rent vacant units to homeless veterans and receive fair market rent and the support of a network of service providers. Landlords are guaranteed rent, can screen and select their tenants, and are assigned a case manager to address any concerns and ensure a successful placement. Any landlord or property management company operating rental housing in Los Angeles County is eligible to participate.
For more information on Home for Heroes or Home For Good’s Antelope Valley operations, contact Diane Grooms, SPA 1 CES Coordinator, at 661- 435-9743. Information is also available online at http://homeforgoodla.org , http://www.unitedwayla.org/homes-for-heroes or https://www.facebook.com/homeforgoodla?fref=ts